Malawi High Court to review acquittal of Dowa sex attack on girl, 10

Malawi’s High Court will review the judgement of the Dowa first grade magistrate Titus Banda acquitted a 50-year-old Rwandan who allegedly raped a 10 year-old.

The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted when she went to Dzaleka Refugee Camp to recharge her mother’s phone at Seleman Jonathan’s shop and medical report tendered in court proved she was defiled.

But Dowa First Grade Magistrate Court ruled that the suspect be acquitted on the premises that the defiled girl did not feel any pain during the rape, the victim did not report the matter to her parents and the medical report did not give in-depth evidence to show that the girl was raped.

The judgement attracted condemnation from women and rights campaigners.

In Malawi, reports indicate sevn girls are sexually abused monthly-. Photo by Travis Lupick.

High Court acting registrar Michael Tembo said they requested the judgement files which have already been sent for review.

“After the review, the court will decide to overwrite the first judgement or maintain it based on what it will find. The accused will also be dealt with according to the reviewed judgement,” said Tembo.

Police Prosecutors also have made submissions to the High Court for the acquittal to be quashed, according to Dowa Police public relations officer Richard Kaponda.

And Malawi Law Society (MLS) chairperson John-Gift Mwakhwawa told The Nation: “A judgement cannot be passed on the question of pain because if the consent to sleep with her was by force, threat or duress, there is an element of rape.

“The issue should be critically looked into in order to clear any misconceptions that may have occurred. To say a person should be acquitted for the said premises is wrong because they are not defensive and should not mitigate the judgement passed,” said Mwakhwawa.

According to figures by the National Police headquarters in Lilongwe, Seven girls were raped every month in 2012,  a worrying trend in a country where women are still considered inferior.

Inspector General of Police, Loti Dzonzi told a news conference recently that defilement was a major crime now.

In 2011, 93 girls were defiled.

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